Wauconda taking another look at controversial 911 plan
Prompted by action in Springfield and their own financial predictions, Wauconda officials on Tuesday revisited a controversial plan to close the village's 911 center and outsource the service to a different agency.
The topic arose during the evening's village board meeting as part of a scheduled discussion of the proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year.
The meeting was held at Wauconda High School rather than village hall to accommodate a large crowd, but only about 40 people attended.
Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner led the outsourcing discussion, giving a long presentation that included a slideshow featuring charts, financial estimates and an explanation of the advantages of closing the 911 center at the police station.
When the topic of 911 consolidation first arose more than a year ago, officials primarily talked about outsourcing the service to Lake Zurich. This time, Maxeiner spoke about joining an agency called CenCom that already handles emergency calls for seven Lake County police departments, including those in the Antioch, Barrington and the Round Lake-area towns.
CenCom gained an edge over Lake Zurich, Maxeiner said, because the center could better serve calls for the Wauconda Fire Protection District.
The board voted unanimously to petition CenCom for membership and to negotiate an agreement for admission for the board to consider.
Maxeiner said the move is necessary to save Wauconda up to $300,000 annually. The village's spending is outpacing revenue, he said, and upcoming annual budgets are going to have growing deficits.
Additionally, the state House and Senate have approved legislation that calls for dispatch centers to consolidate significantly in the years to come.
If Gov. Bruce Rauner signs the bill, those changes will be mandated. And even though Wauconda residents have protested consolidation in great numbers over the last two years, village officials may not have a choice but to close the local center because of the law.
None of Wauconda's trustees has publicly favored outsourcing. A few have said the issue needs investigating, however, especially in light of the state legislation.
As at past meetings, members of the public shared their opinions about closing the 911 center. But this time, proponents of outsourcing far outnumbered opponents.
Among them was onetime state House candidate Danielle Rowe, who urged the trustees to "do what's right and tighten your own belts."
On the other hand, outsourcing opponent Maria Weisbruch remained resolute.
"We already said we don't want it," Weisbruch said.